About Emily

Emily is a Senior English Major and writing minor. She is currently President of Active Minds, a member of Sigma Tau Delta, is a Chapel enthusiast, and angry feminist with a passion for blogging. She spends far too much time on social media (especially Twitter) and has fun attempting to play the cello. During her spare time, she can often be found eating string cheese and painting birdhouses.

The Walk.

There are many types of walking.

I remember two of them at Alma.

The first walk wasn’t so much of walk more but of a run; when I jumped out of my old run-down minivan that was packed to the hilt with stuff and ran to the Newberry Lobby to proudly proclaim that I was here and ready to move into my room. On the way there I ran into someone I only knew on Facebook and said hello to uncertainly; my roommate.

I spent a lot of that day walking. Walking back and forth from my van to my room on first floor Newberry. Walking to the different buildings to meet new people. Walking to Play Fair. Walking to meet my Orientation Committee mentor. Walking to meet my RA, not knowing that she would influence me to apply for that position, which I would hold for three years.

I walked through four years at Alma, sometimes running, sometimes skipping, sometimes stumbling and crawling, but I made it to my final walk.

On Saturday, I stood outside in the bright sunshine, my phone clutched in my hand for picture taking, tottering in six inch heels that matched my graduation dress. I wasn’t sure if my hood was over my shoulders properly. My graduation cap made me feel like I had no hair. The black tassel kept blowing into my mouth in the wind.

And I walked into the Art Smith Arena with the rest of the class of 2014 to the sound of bagpipes, a sound that I used to hate but had grown to love.

I walked past where everyone was sitting and back to the choir section, where I vaguely wondered why I didn’t join the Alma Choirs until halfway through my junior year. The choir seniors stood in front, and when the time came, we sang Loch Lomond. We sing it at every commencement. I did not need my music. I sang the alto part with a voice scratchy from emotion and when I stole a glance at the large screen, I saw my face there and there was a huge smile on it.

What seemed like minutes later but was probably an hour, I was standing in a line with people who had the last name of H. We were being called to walk across the stage and get our diploma holders. (Diplomas get mailed later.) We were to cross the stage, shake President Abernathy’s hand, pause for a picture, and revel in this glorious moment.

I had been dreaming of it. When Dr. Arnold, my advisor, called my name, (“Emily Ruth Hollenberg, Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, honors in English”) I couldn’t hear anything that she said. I focused on not stepping out of my painful shoes. I kept my eyes focused on President Abernathy, who shook my hand and told me that he wanted to bring me a tie, a joke from sophomore year when he gave me one of his ties at a barbecue we were both attending. I smiled for the picture and tottered off the stage, holding my diploma holder, and I still could not hear anything.

I couldn’t hear anything properly until commencement was over and we all stood up and cheered. My face hurt from smiling and we bounced a beach ball around instead of throwing up our caps.

Then I walked outside, holding my diploma holder, stumbling in my shoes, my face splitting from a smile, in a sea of my happy peers and through a gauntlet of faculty that I could never thank enough for getting me through my four years at Alma.

I did it.

I’m not sure how to end this post. It has not sunk in yet that I have graduated and that I will never return as a student. It has not sunk in that this is my last blog post, and what a nostalgic post it is!

I’ve had many opportunities at Alma. One of them has been the privilege to write for this blog. I know it seems like a trivial thing, but it was something that I greatly loved and I hope that I can continue doing it professionally throughout the rest of my life.

Alma gives you opportunities like that. It gives you things to do for the rest of your life.

I made it. The class of 2014 made it.

The Many Faces of Hell Week

Tomorrow is Friday, and I for one cannot wait.

I’m excited for a few reasons, first and foremost being that I am completely done with classes at Alma and am therefore sleeping in until eleven before holding myself up in the library to finish my senior thesis.

Tomorrow marks the end of Hell Week, a strange week that happens at the end of every semester and that can take a lot of different shapes and forms.

THE HALF-FORMED FRESHMAN

My freshman year I wasn’t really sure what Hell Week was. I just knew that it was my last week of classes and I sure as heck was looking forward to a free week where I only had a few exams. I didn’t spend much time studying and decided that I would spend my days walking to the park and doing other things in the warm weather.

As my freshman GPA has graciously noted, this was a mistake that I did not make again.

THE DISTINGUISHED SOPHOMORE

In order to rectify my half-formed freshman mistake, Hell Week of my sophomore year was pretty intense. In fact, I made it way more intense than I needed to. I spent hours upon hours in the library doing needless tasks, telling people how busy I was (a horrible habit that we really need to drop on this campus) and finding new things on my to-do list that absolutely must be done. I also started the tradition of carrying my stuffed Simba around with me for comfort in the deeply troubling times that I myself had made troubling.

THE DROWNING JUNIOR

I spent just as much time in the library studying my junior year as I did my sophomore year with but with one key difference: everything I was doing was actually due and making me feel like I was drowning. A wise person once told me that junior year royally sucked, and this proved true in both high school and at Alma. I was consistently in the library until it closed at 1:00 a.m. in the morning and I still felt like I wasn’t getting anything done.

THE CARELESS SENIOR

I am definitely in the careless senior stage currently. I planned my classes so I only had two real classes the entire semester, I finished both of them today, and am looking forward to nine days of no classes. I have two papers to write and no exams. Both of these papers have been started. I do, however, have a 250 page senior thesis that’s not done and that’s daunting, but I’ve been spending my free time reading Harry Potter instead of working on it, because sometimes (and by that I mean all the time) it’s really hard to care.

Most of my senior friends are in the careless senior phase. Although many of them have a lot more to do than me, they’re still taking copious breaks, watching Disney movies, and spending time with friends before we get our degrees next Saturday.

My boyfriend is currently in a mixture of the junior and sophomore phase, where he’s spending lots of time holed up in his room doing work. I’m not entirely sure if all of it is as important as he makes it seem. At least he’s preparing himself for his junior year.

Hell Week looks different for everyone. When I’ve described my Hell Week to inquiring people, I get a lot of nasty looks because I don’t have much going on.

But to everyone who’s doing the Drowning Junior, we’ve all been there. And if we haven’t, we all will be at some point.

One week left, you guys. We’ll get through exams. And seniors, we’ll walk. And it’ll all be worth it.

The Weeks of Lasts.

Today has been a very strange day for me for a number of reasons.

1. IT’S WARM. So I wore a dress. The wearing a dress part wasn’t weird but the fact that I didn’t have to wear tights was.

2. My eyes have been oddly swollen. I’m not really sure what that’s about. I’ll blame the weather.

3. When I got back from choir rehearsal, I made my April RA bulletin board and I realized that this marks three weeks until graduation and that means that there are a lot of “lasts” happening in my life this week.

I haven’t been handling it very well. This tweet is how I’ve been handling it.

I’m really beginning to realize that I’m going to walk out of here with an English Degree and a sign on my back that says HIRE ME I CAN WRITE GOOD.

The lasts are truly beginning. Tomorrow I give my last English presentation, besides Honor’s Day, which is on Thursday. Honor’s Day is a first and a last: it will be my first time presenting and my last time going to watch others present.

Today I did my last bulletin board after three years of being an RA. When I put that last staple in, I felt very victorious and rather upset.

I went home over the weekend for a bridal shower and when I was driving back through downtown Alma on Saturday night, I remembered that this would be my last time driving back to Alma from Indiana as a student. You can bet that I cried the entire way back to the Wright Hall parking lot.

This weekend is my last choir concert, Masterworks. (You should all come, by the way. We’re singin Mozart’s Requiem and it’s about to be SO LEGIT. Saturday 8pm and Sunday at 3pm in Heritage. Be there.)

I have two papers for finals week, and they are my last papers for my English major. Last week was my last poetry reading for See Spot Run magazine. Soon, we’ll get to my last blog post on here.

Last, last, last.

My graduation stuff is all hung up in my room. I got a command hook and hung it up behind my door; cap, gown, tassel, hood. Sometimes when I look at it, I smile super wide, and other times I look at it and I want to cry.

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The lasts have been coming, and now they are here. It’s time to make my last three weeks at Alma as a student count, because before I know it, I’ll be walking across that stage and getting my degree.

And you will be too.

It goes by fast, you guys. Make it count.

Women’s Month is Here!

Today in class, my professor stood in front of all of us, opened up her arms, and asked, “Do we know what month it is?”

To which I shouted, “WOMEN’S MONTH!” at the same time that everybody else said “March.”

Hint, we were all correct. March is Women’s Month!

I love Women’s Month. Last year I made a Women’s Month bulletin board in my hall. I try to attend as many Women’s Month activities as I can. I was in the Vagina Monologues. I try decorate my room for Women’s Month.

I just love celebrating women. I try to do it every day of every month, but March is when all the cool stuff happens on campus and then we all get to celebrate women all the time.

The biggest thing I’m doing for Women’s Month this year is a forum on March 20th in the Thistle Room.

When my Women’s Studies professor told me that as part of our Transnational Feminisms class we would be creating activist materials to present in the Thistle Room, my first thought was not “How do I create activist material”, it was “Where on earth is the Thistle Room?”

Saga. It’s in Saga. You know, that room by the to-go lunch cart that looks relatively fancy and that you feel like you shouldn’t wear sweatpants to enter it.

Now that we know where the Thistle Room is and you’re obviously intrigued by what my feminism class is going to be doing there, I’m going to tell you what we’re going to be doing there so you’ll come and celebrate women with us!

During class we spent a long time talking about activist material. Posters. Pamphlets. Sheets. Street art (which probably won’t happen because with spring quickly approaching, I don’t think campus will be dry until July). And other stuff. Activist materials. There’s a wide variety.

The first thing I thought of, of course, was making a blog. I made a little pen name and I set it all up. I spent a lot of time on it and I was super excited. And then I decided that I didn’t really feel like running a fifth blog, so I got rid of it and decided to make animated poetry instead. You know, poetry that moves and has music. They’re pretty fun.

But what will our activist materials be about? I mean, we’ll be sharing them with you in the elusive Thistle Room on March 20th, but what exactly are they going to be?

Anything and everything about women locally and around the world.

A lot of the women in my class are discussing body image. My friend Andrea is doing something called “What’s On Your Face” where she takes pictures of the makeup that her friends put on their faces everyday. My picture, should she decide to take it, would be a small bottle of foundation, mascara, and the same purple eyeshadow that I hope lasts me a lifetime. (You can’t go wrong with purple. It’s regal.) Some of the women in my class are going to talk about rape culture and its effect on women in our country and in other countries.

I’m making my animated poem about women’s sexual suppression. I’m getting very excited to present it.

But you know, first I have to write it and animate it.

Sometimes Alma classes are simply lectures, and sometimes Alma classes are full of people doing something cool, like making activist materials to bring women’s issues to light and to share them with the campus and the community. My Women’s Studies class is definitely doing that.

Remember: Thistle Room, March 20th, 11:30 am. Drop in for the whole hour or for ten minutes, but come by and see what our class is up to and celebrate women with us.

March is Women’s Month. How are you going to celebrate women on campus this year?

Spring Break Adventures!

There are a lot of spring break opportunities when you’re in college. You can go on an alternative break, leave the country, sit at home, take a road trip, look at grad schools, what have you.

I wasn’t really aware of this when I was a freshman, and you can bet that I spent all seven days of my spring break sitting alone in my room watching the first seven seasons of Criminal Minds online.

It was a long break that year.

Sophomore year I did almost the same thing, but instead I spent spring break sitting at my kitchen table writing a paper about Shakespeare. Isn’t it funny how we always have homework over spring break?

I honestly don’t remember what I did last year. That’s probably bad.

This year I was going to go on an Alternative Break, but it wasn’t feasible with my bearded dragon, so instead I bought a plane ticket with my brother Aaron Hollenberg ’13 and we went to Florida to visit my grandpa.

You can bet that Florida was pretty nice after the horrible frigid temperatures and snow we’ve been experiencing here in the mitten.

My grandpa has been in the same retirement park since I was three, so I’ve been going to Florida for a super long time. We drove the eighteen hour drive in my ancient minivan until I was about thirteen, which is when my father discovered airplanes. After that we flew into places like Tampa and Fort Myers, and my senior year of high school we drove again, much to my chagrin.

When we landed in Florida, it was so beautiful, warm, and sunny that I cried. And being the ex-swimmer that I am, I didn’t waste any time; as soon as I unpacked I headed straight to the pool.

I’d been going to this pool since before I had learned to swim, and it was super nice being back there with all the happy old people in my grandpa’s retirement community.

My grandpa has lived alone since my grandma died last year, and I think that he was happy to have some company. My grandpa absolutely LOVES to cook, so he made a big deal out of making us huge breakfasts, like pancakes eggs and toast, and he made us gigantic dinners every night followed by different kinds of pie. (Pie is kind of a big deal in my family.) We had wine with dinner every night and watched the end of the Olympics until my grandpa fell asleep in his recliner.

In the morning my grandpa would drive us twenty miles to the beach where my brother and I ran in the surf and looked for shark teeth. Casperson Beach is always covered in shark teeth, and when I was little my parents and my brother and I would spend hours combing the beach for them, sifting through shells and sand, looking for them. We’d put them in film cannisters to take them home in and decorate my bathroom with them.

It was so nice to see the ocean.

We found a few shark teeth, too.

But hands down the BEST part of going to the beach was the wild tortoise that we ran into on the boardwalk, just chugging away, going wherever he was going.

He was pretty neat.

My brother and I spent long days at the pool reading books, casually swimming, and listening to all the retired people. There was an old guy floating around the deep end in a very serious conversation about Flappy Bird, I kid you not.

My grandpa’s modular home is right off of a lake that has alligators, and we managed to see one sunning itself. I might be crazy, but I absolutely LOVE alligators and Aaron had to keep me from getting too close.

We also went to the brackish river to go manatee watching, but we didn’t see any. We did see a cute little lizard sunning itself on a rock, though.

Like most vacations do, it went by way too quickly. Soon we were waiting to board our flight back to the frozen tundra of Indiana. There was a man that looked like George R. R. Martin on our flight and I was a little bit worried that some of us were going to die Game of Thrones style.

When we landed, it was 12 degrees and I said a small prayer for the end of the semester and wishing for spring weather.

In my four years at Alma, this was definitely the best spring break that I’ve had. It certainly beats watching all seven seasons of Criminal Minds in seven days, that’s for sure.

Find Your Therapy.

On Sunday, I found myself doing two things that were a little bit odd.

The first place I found myself was in line at Wal-Mart with thirty dollars’ worth of wooden birdhouses.

The second place I found myself was sitting on my floor in my pajamas painting said birdhouses.

This week marks the middle of winter semester. I don’t know about you, but for me that means…

STRESS.

I have two short papers due, two research papers coming up, a choir concert, and a flight to catch. But am I really researching for my papers and reading everything I’m supposed to be reading? Nah, not really.

When life gets you stressed, sometimes you just need to sit around in your pajamas and paint birdhouses.

I was at Wal-Mart last week looking for something small to get my significant other, and I happened across a tri-fold wooden picture frame in the painting aisle. I grabbed it, thinking that I could paint it and put pictures of us in it and it would be really cutesy for Valentine’s Day. It was then that I saw a teeny little birdhouse for three dollars and I purchased it on impulse.

So on Friday night after I’d given my painted picture frames to my significant other, I sat on the floor of my apartment and painted the teeny birdhouse while I had a Harry Potter marathon. I painted it rainbow.

And you know what? It felt awesome.

Things are stressful. Life is stressful. Being in college is stressful. Being a person is stressful. So sometimes you just need to find something that relaxes you and makes you feel awesome. And for me, that suddenly became painting birdhouses.

I was very excited when I unloaded the five birdhouses I had gotten onto my living room floor. I also got two more of the tri-fold picture frames to paint and I painted those various colors and designs with my best friend, Barbara Otey ’14. We sat on my living room floor for three hours and painted and painted and painted.

When we were finished, Barbara had painted a picture collage cube, one of the tri-fold frames, and a canvas. I had two of the tri-fold frames drying and a two story birdhouse awaiting a second coat of paint.

My birdhouse now sits proudly on my window sill. I still have four others waiting to be painted.

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Maybe painting isn’t your thing. Maybe you don’t like sitting cross legged on the floor of your room wearing leggings as pants and getting paint all over your fingers and probably on your carpet. Maybe you like drawing. Or running. Or taking hot showers. Or singing really loudly.

We all have something that makes us feel better when the homework piles up, something that you can splurge on. Let’s be honest, I did not have thirty bucks for birdhouses and pictures frames, but I now have five birdhouses and two picture frames hanging on my wall. And I gotta tell ya, I feel a lot better having painted them.

Find your therapy. Do what ya gotta do.

Those 200 Words.

I’ve never been very good with deadlines.

I go through a lot of weird rituals to remember deadlines. I religiously write in my planner. I write every little thing on my dry erase calendar that I have hanging across from my bed. (It’s important to keep calendars that watch you in the dark so they can proliferate your mind with terrifying dreams of forgetting to turn in your final papers.) I write stuff on my wrists and my hands.

And my favorite way to remember things is to make a sticky note to-do list at my carrel. When I’ve completed a task, I can rip the sticky note down and recycle it and it’s over with and done.

But I’m still really bad with deadlines. And somehow, this week really snuck up on me with one particular deadline, and that deadline was:

HONORS DAY ABSTRACT.

Honors Day, of course, is the day that Alma College celebrates students’ research with a day of presentations, cookies, and awards. I’ve attended many of my friends presentations and my brother’s presentation on male wolf spider mating behavior, which was more terrifying than anything. Last year I vowed that I would have an Honors Day presentation, and I embarked on a great journey called Emily Writes a Senior Thesis.

 

In the English major, which is what I know and what I’m comfortable with, we have two choices: we can write creatively or we can write scholarly papers. My friend Christina Rann ’14 is writing a 40-page paper about colorism in African American women playwrights’ plays.

I’ve done my share of research papers, so I decided that I was going to write a novel.

Writing a novel isn’t exactly easy, but, for me at least, it’s a lot easier than a research paper. I love writing creative fiction. I started writing my novel in July. I meet with my thesis advisor once a week and we talk about how my novel is going. He asks me weird questions that would make my scientist parents scratch their heads, like, “If the snow globe in this paragraph could talk, what would it say?” (No seriously, I’ve been asked that.)

I’ve put a lot of time and effort into my novel. I’m not done writing it, but it’s beginning to really take flight and then hopefully, wrap up in time for Honors Day, where I get to stand and read a small excerpt from it and then talk about my creative writing style and how I work as an “artist.”

I know exactly what’s going on in my novel and what it’s about and you know what, I’m proud of it.

But when I opened up the abstract form and it told me I had write about my senior thesis in less than 200 words, I couldn’t remember one single bit of my novel or what to say about it.

You spend months and months and months working on something so near and dear to your heart and then suddenly… BLANK.

I’m not the only person who’s having this issue. Every person I’ve talked about Honors Day abstracts has told me the exact same thing: “I have no idea what I’m putting in my abstract.”

As I tend to do, I’m cutting the deadline close. My 200 words that must somehow encompass my current 168-page novel were just given to my thesis advisor, who will hopefully edit it nicely for me and give me back some suggestions. I have less than twenty-four hours for this to happen, for me to write another draft, and possibly a third draft, and then to click submit.

Honors Day seems like it’s a ways away, and in a sense, it is. It’s a little less than two months from now. But the deadline to actually be a presenter for Honors Day is fast approaching.

Summing up months of work into 200 words that gets submitted to a committee is hard. It’s stressful. It’s not fun.

But Honors Day comes out of it, and that’s pretty awesome.

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway. Wait. It Bothers Me.

What are you doing right now?

Well, reading this. That’s what you’re doing right now.

Right now, while I’m typing this, I’m at my carrel in the library. And I’m not just typing this.

I’m also violently lip syncing “Let It Go” from Frozen and windmilling my arms around.

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Uh, yes. I did just take a selfie of myself singing Let It Go purely for your enjoyment. Please don’t use this against me later in life.

I’ve already blogged about it this year, but it’s time for Polar Vortex Number Two, and it is seriously the only thing I am hearing about and seeing on social media.

Saga conversations: “It’s so cold! I’m so done with this winter!”

Myself when I drove to Wal-Mart yesterday: “It’s so cold! I’m so done with this winter!”

My roommate: “It’s so cold! I’m so done with this winter!”

My reply as I wrapped my scarf around my face, “The cold never bothered me anyway!”

(Ha. The Dr. Pepper I took with me to class froze solid in my mug about two seconds after that statement.)

But it did. The cold totally bothered me anyway. When I went to Saga today, the wind blew over and I got a face full of ice. Which was relatively awful.

I think my favorite Facebook status about the winter (besides my one about Game of Thrones which I thought was pretty clever) has been from Connor Welsh ’14, and it encompassed pretty much everything from the past few days.

“Hi! About to start your morning by scrolling through Facebook to see what’s new? Allow me to save you some time.
85% of your posts will be about how cold it is.
5% will be people complaining about people complaining about the cold.
5% will be leftovers about the Grammys and Kendrick or what the heck ever.
The other 5% is cynical garbage like this that can’t really be categorized.
Have a great day and stay warm!
Sincerely,
The Management.”

Alma, there’s just no denying that it’s really cold outside. And that everyone is talking about it.

I don’t want to rant about people talking about it all the time. I am so guilty of this. About every other sentence out of my mouth is something along the lines of, “I AM SO DONE WITH WINTER I HATE EVERYTHING CAN I JUST SNUGGLE IN BED ALL DAY UGH MY ASTHMA IS ACTING UP I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE MY ROOM I’M GOING TO BE IMPALED BY AN ICICLE.”

Nah, I don’t want to tell anyone that they’re talking about winter too much. This winter has royally sucked and we can complain about it.

Want to know what the Midwest looks like right now?

BAM. It looks a wee bit… snowy. And cold. And gross.

But there’s one cool thing that’s coming from this winter, and that’s that our campus looks absolutely GORGEOUS. I mean, sure, those beautiful icicles hanging off everywhere could fall and kill you like in The Lovely Bones. But campus is absolutely gorgeous. The Alma Twitter had a contest for the best Alma in winter picture. I submitted this beauty.

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If you don’t think that’s wonderful, well… that’s your business. But I think it’s pretty darn awesome.

Spring will come. Maybe. Probably. It’s likely that spring will come.

Until then, we must endure more complaining, more complaining about people complaining, those scary guys that have been walking around in T-shirts (seriously, WHO ARE YOU AND ARE YOU MAGICAL?) and intense Facebook statuses about windchills and the need to cancel classes.

But spring will come. And we can sit outside when it’s thirty degrees in sundresses and laugh about the Polar Vortex.

(Here’s Let It Go. Watch it. Sing it. Cry. Annoy people in the library.)

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Came to College

When I was in high school, I was absolutely terrified of going to college because to me it symbolized going into the “adult world” or “the real world.” I was going to be in college! I was going to have to be an adult! I was going to have to do… things.

But I’ve come to realize a few important things since coming to college, and I’m going to write about ten of them. So here they are.

1. Making a box of macaroni and cheese for dinner is a completely acceptable meal.

I can’t cook, and let’s be honest, I’ll probably never learn how. (This is what husbands are for.) So when my dinner date cancels on me, it’s perfectly fine to make a box of shaped macaroni and cheese and snarf it in about three minutes. How much regret you have after such a stunt is up to you.

2. Sometimes putting on pants is really hard.

Do you ever wake up and you’re just like, UGH PANTS NO. Yeah. Me too.

3. Your world views are going to drastically change.

I mean, it’s not like I expected to come to college and not change at all, but goodness gracious, going to college has opened up my mind to so many awesome things, most of which came from classes and all the opportunities that Alma brings to us.

4. TRAVEL EVERYWHERE.

Alma gives you the opportunity to go places. Take that opportunity. Seriously. See the world. Now’s the time.

5. Netflix will be your downfall.

I mean, have you tried to do homework while having a Netflix account?

6. Honors Day is really awesome.

Honors Day can make you think of two things, the first one being “no classes! I can sleep in!” Don’t. Go see what your friends on campus are doing with their lives and intellectual talents. The only thing you’ll regret about Honors Day is if you don’t go.

(The second thing you’ll think about is going. Go. Or be the person that presents.)

7. It’s okay to take time for yourself.

Sometimes you just need to spend a day in your room eating bad food and watching movies. And that’s totally okay.

8. Life happens outside of Alma.

I went home to Indiana for Thanksgiving and my parents were discussing a gigantic piece of Indiana legislation that I hadn’t heard about and it actually affected my life. Even though we’re stuck in the Alma bubble, life is actually going on in the outside world and we should probably pay attention to it.

9. This is the time in life to take chances and gain experiences.

This is one of the few times in my life where I don’t feel tied down to anything else except for school. So when opportunities come knocking, I try to pounce on them, which explains why I have no money and I’ve been to too many concerts in Detroit.

10. You’re going to figure out who you are, and if not, you’re going to get pretty darn close.

I know how clichéd this sounds, but I’m absolutely serious. My mother told me that college is the one time in your life when you can be horribly selfish and do everything for yourself. Do what you want to do. Travel. Go to shows. Watch Netflix. Make life-long friends. Join a weird club. Make memories and experiences.

You’ve been blessed with the opportunity to go college, and to go to Alma of all places (which we can all agree is the best place to be). And sometimes in college pants are hard, Netflix always wins, and you’re up at three in the morning eating an entire birthday cake. Maybe that last one is just me.

But college is awesome. And so is Alma.

Graduation Requirements: Check

I’ve had some pretty weird dreams.

When I was seven, I had a dream that Peter Pan came to my room and I flew all around the country on my mattress. This was a very interesting dream, because I didn’t see Peter Pan until my freshman year at Alma. (And I didn’t like it. Oops.)

Last night I had a very interesting dream in which I was graduating from Alma. That part wasn’t weird. What was weird was the fact that Alma Choir was made up of residents from the Masonic Home, my graduation robes were green, and after I got my diploma I got in an RV in search of a serial killer. Did I find him? I’ll never know.

Last week I got a few of those terrifying emails. You know, the SENIOR AUDIT! emails.

Did I have time to go to the basement of Saga and have them review my life to make sure that I can actually leave in April, hopefully without getting into an RV to pursue a serial killer in green graduation robes?

Of course. All seniors have time. And if not, like we students at Alma do, we make time.

One of the things that I particularly enjoy about Alma is the fact that it is indeed a liberal arts college. Some people don’t like it, and I bet that half of you are going yeah yeah yeah we know that Alma’s cool because you have to take other classes.

But do we actually think about what that means?

I mean, I feel like I’ve gotten a decently extensive education here spanning three majors and two minors before finally winding up as a solid English Major and Creative Writing Minor.

Freshman year I got to dip my feet into a chemistry major, which I dropped after struggling through organic chemistry and finding my English passion studying fairytales in Lit 120. But organic chem was cool. I mean, I got to draw cool shapes and my brother was my lab partner. One time we extracted caffeine from a tea bag and that was pretty neat.

While I dabbled in my Spanish minor, I took Spanish classes at home to keep me occupied in the summer, and by the time I left that minor for a creative writing one, I wrote a five page research paper en analfabetismo en el pais de Colombia. (That’s illiteracy in Colombia.) Like, whenever I need to impress people or pull a party trick at a public function, I can say HEY I WROTE A RESEARCH PAPER IN SPANISH!

I was in the Education Program for quite a long time, and I mean like… two years. So on top of the cool distributives I took inside my old majors and minors, I did 72 hours of field placement. I worked in a Spanish classroom, an English classroom where I attempted to teach Macbeth, and I got to work at Republic, Alma’s alternative high school. And on top of that, I took classes just for giggles, like political science (which has bolstered my need to move out of the country), philosophy (I still don’t get it) and women’s studies, which has made me wish I could’ve minored in it.

In short, I’ve taken a lot of cool classes at Alma, and now that it’s my last semester, I’m still taking cool classes. Like Feminist Thought and Global Literature. And when I went for my senior audit, I was told that I was right on track. Which was a super relief, because I was seriously worried.

Seniors, our time is winding up, even though we don’t want to think about it. We’re on the home stretch. Graduation is looming, but without the creepy RV and green robes. (At least I think so.)

Everyone else, your time here goes by quickly, let me tell you. So take a risk. Take a class you might not normally take.

You’re at Alma College for a reason. You’re at this wonderful small school that gives you the gift of a liberal arts education. Use it.